Battlefield of Recovery

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


How do you "move on" from what is at the core of your existence and entire life? If you could move on, where would you go? Ironically, the sufferer of CPTSD leaves behind nearly everything and
everyone on the journey to recovery as he becomes conscious of the toxicity, abuse, lack of boundaries, suffocation, lack of reciprocality, and otherwise damaging and/or limiting factors to
recovery in his relationships of all kind. After months and sometimes years of being alone and working on recovery so hard and for so long, the sufferer seeks out new, healthier people in an
attempt to relate in better ways and form healthier bonds. Unfortunately, he learns he is far from being healed.

Submitted: May 18, 2018

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Submitted: May 18, 2018

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Inherent to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are problems relating to others. Chronic abuse, neglect, and abandonment by people in a position of trust and to whom a person is highly reliant upon for care is the predecessor for the entire disorder. Some professionals even argue the disorder cannot exist without long-lasting trauma first sustained during childhood. I am by no means an expert in this topic or in any kind of psychology or science, yet I agree. Childhood is- unarguably- the most formative years of a person’s mental, emotional, and physiological development. This isn’t to say I don’t believe people can suffer extensive trauma later in life that has significant effects. I know they can. I simply believe it would be a separate kind of trauma with separate characteristics and consequences and a shortened recovery time compared to that of CPTSD.

I believe the reason recovery is so difficult and takes so long for CPTSD suffers is because it is based in learned (or lack of learned,) childhood behavior and is rooted in the most basic human instinct which is self-preservation. You would be hard pressed to find a scientist who would argue that self-preservation is anything but the strongest and most animalistic instinct that exists on the planet and that humans are anything but the most skilled species in this domain. It's also fair to say there is a consensus among scientists and non-scientists that the parent/child and/or caretaker/child relationship is, by far, the single most important relationship on Earth in terms of development. 
 
Personal research during the worst time of my life and a tiny "hunch" that something was "off" led me to understand the very lack of proper development and awareness was that reason I suffered for decades without any indication to myself that I was suffering from any disorder; much less pin-point what it might be or what may be the cause. Void of good, how does one recognize evil? The same concept applies here. Without a frame of reference for what is “normal” or healthy, it is next to impossible for suffers to recognize childhood trauma and/or abuse for what it is; much less recognize its repercussions in childhood or adulthood. What is abnormal appears normal on some or all levels of one's Being. 
 
It is through my own journey that I now believe the only “hope,” for a sufferer to become aware is (at best,) through sheer confusion about life and Self and a nagging curiosity as to why havoc exists in one form or another at every stage of his life and (at worst and far more often,) through so much pain and suffering in adult life and seemingly “random" events that one becomes desperate to make any kind of sense of it at all. Little does one know at the time that the true depths of despair and isolation have not yet been fully reached as it is an even longer and harder fall on the road to recovery than anyone could imagine.
 
I find it most ironic that after such painful discovery and such life-shattering awakening, the most heartbreaking aspect of this disorder is yet to be had. It is long after the “blunt” trauma, subsequent numbing and disassociation, denial, and, eventually, the messy acceptance and terrible reliving of what was once artfully and skillfully suppressed that a person reaches a whole new terrain. It is after the flood of mental, emotional, and physical pain so unbearable and so constant that one feels he/she would rather be on the front line in an actual physical war zone than live in the constant invisible hell to which the sufferer has now opened the gate. 
 
Long after some sense has been made, trauma has been identified intellectually and lived and re-lived emotionally and physically and recovery has been set in motion, the body and the brain remain set to its original frequency. The result is a body and mind chemistry that is set for constant combat. Worse still is that no matter how many "bad guys," this soldier kills, no one pats him on the back. No one gives him a medal, thinks he's a hero, welcomes him home, or even notices that he's missing an arm or a leg and is so fatigued he can barely breath. In fact, no one notices at all. No one even knows there is a war. 
 
Interestingly, among the very few whom the sufferer confides in during the recovery process and who are ever so slightly aware of what she has been through over a lifetime or even what she is going through at present, comes gut-wrenching yet mostly well intended advice. “Move on.” "Lean on your support system." "Ask for help.” “Meet new people.” “Attract good people in to your life.” And, my personal favorite, “Get better, and good people will come to you.” 
 
How do you move on from what is at the core of your existence and entire life? And, if you could, where would you go? What support system? This entire disorder developed due to a malfunctioning, if not missing, support system, and this hard wiring has attracted one toxic person after another. Ask who for help? I thought I just did. Meet what people? The ones I'm afraid will minimize and invalidate? Or the ones who will be somewhat sympathetic until they break a promise, send a mixed signal, or in some form “trigger” me-and due to my overreaction- reject or abandon me and shame me for “causing it" myself? After all, these people are fully convinced they have served you justice, shown you “tough love,” or protected themselves from your causing them grief. This kind of advice is not only short-sighted but is the equivalent of handing a small child a screw driver, telling her to build the most complex architectural structure that has ever existed and to not come out of her room until she is finished.  There are little to no learned behaviors for the sufferer to pull from in order to cope with damage with eyes wide open or to apply this kind of "advice."
 
Ironically, the sufferer leaves behind nearly everything and everyone on the journey to recovery as he becomes conscious of the toxicity, abuse, lack of boundaries, suffocation, lack of reciprocality, and otherwise damaging and/or limiting factors to recovery that existed in his relationships of all kind. Months and often years after overwhelming aloneness working so hard and so long on recovery, the sufferer seeks out new, healthier people in an attempt to relate in better ways and form healthy bonds. Unfortunately, he learns he is far from being healed. It’s this stage where he begins to understand he needs practice relating to healthy people and sustaining healthy bonds in order to familiarize himself with the skills healthy adults gained in the very distant past and have been using ever since. The sufferer lacks what others seem to know. Imagine an adult who appears on the surface fully competent and functioning riding a bicycle on training wheels- pedaling slowly and swerving from right to left. Now imagine the frustration and impatience of onlookers and those riding behind and beside her. The amount of sadness that comes after so much difficult work to heal from trauma and to burden no one else during this lonely process is the realization that one may not can solve an intrinsically relational problem by himself. One cannot learn to engage with others in a healthy way without others who to engage. One cannot learn to trust that she will not be abandoned or rejected without someone who is willing not to leave. Or, can she?
 
I’m not really sure. The optimist in me would like to believe that if she faces enough abandonment and enough rejection during such a long recovery process, she can practice what it means to show up for herself in ways others did not show up for her. Maybe if enough people are hateful, critical, judgmental,unforgiving, unsympathetic, unkind, or otherwise indifferent to her daily battle field enough times in a long cold war, she can finally practice self compassion enough times to no longer take personally the lack of compassion from others. Maybe, just maybe, in staying with herself after everyone else has gone, and in continuing to work hard on herself long after others have given up on her, she can overcome the need for their approval and drown out the silent noise of their rejection and the fear of their abandonment. Perhaps one day she can even look square in the eye that little girl within her sitting in isolation and captivity and say with every ounce of confidence and conviction, “I will NEVER leave you. No matter how long your recovery takes, I will stay with you. I will never punish you for setbacks. And I will work day and night and with all of my power and all of my strength to make sure you are set free or die trying. 


© Copyright 2018 Amira Hamwia. All rights reserved.

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